World views
Knowledge Series
Dynamic Thresholds
Relationship Boundaries
Rest of Series
Understanding Numbers
Happiness Manifesto


Knowledge/Meaning Cells

Creating & Sharing Meanings.

Historical Perspective: Words vs Meanings.
The central problem with language is that One word can have many, many meanings. Most dictionaries have over 100 'meanings' for the word 'run'. Also, One meaning can be expressed with many different words.

Example 1: Lunar Landing:
Sometimes the particular meaning of a word, like a measurement unit, needs to be made explicit. We lost a $125 million Mars orbiter, in 1999, because one group of programmers at NASA used inches, while another group used centimeters.

Example 2: The Gimly Glider:
When Air Canada Flight 143 ran out of gas, only 1/2 way to its destination, it was because airplane fuelers measure fuel in Gallons but pilots measure fuel in pounds, OR in kilograms. Because 1 kilogram is about 2 pounds, the plane took off with 1/2 the fuel they needed for the flight, and hence ran out of fuel at 40,000 feet.

Example 3: (Everyday situation)
I have a neighbor whose native language is Spanish. English is her 2nd language, and her English is impeccable, but one small episode highlights the difference between Words and Meanings. For Christmas she baked me a delicious casserole. The dish she cooked it in was expensive & she didn't want me to throw it away (her Meaning). So as she dropped it off she said (Words) "Keep the dish". I realized that 'keep' has multiple meanings, and I sensed she did not want me to keep the dish, so I said: "I'll return the dish to you."

The reason is simple, We always start with a personal meaning (my neighbor not wanting to lose her expensive casserole dish) and then, when we go to share that meaning we must of necessity use words. We even collect these words into dictionaries with the hope that everyone will apply the same meaning to a particular word.

Gutenberg's Printing press made it easier to make copies of or share Words;
KnCells make it easier to share Personal Meanings.

We have that same problem within ourselves; we experience Meanings but try to think about them with Words. This is true whether we are thinking about our past, our present, or our future. KnCells are designed to make it easier for us to get beyond our Words to our own personal Meanings.

What I've said about Words also applies to symbols, numbers, sounds, images, etc.

Note: Words, symbols & especially Numbers, can be used to reveal or to conceal. Since many advertisers, politicians, and other leaders are often intent on persuading rather than informing us, many KnCell techniques can be used as Self-defense against manipulators.
See: Understanding Numbers

The purpose of the rest of this page is strictly to define KnCells as fully & accurately as possible.

How can we understand KnCells?
The same way we understand other ideas.
We look first at the Motivations and Contexts which led to the unique design structure, or Model of the idea. Then we look at & practice, the implementation of that Model, namely the Parts, or Components or Building Blocks, and the Skills necessary to recognize those parts, and fit them into the design model in such a way as to fulfill the original model intentions, and within ongoing ever-changing contexts.

Special note:
KnCells were designed with 2, not 1, complementary design requirements:
1. Assist the Individual in discovering, often hidden, Meanings.
2. Share those personal Meanings with others.

What are KnCells like?  -  Mind maps!
When I created KnCells I had been drawing hundreds of mind maps, and also teaching many others to do so. Yet I often wanted more, much more. I wanted, especially for numbers, the ability to specify units, ranges, granularity and also representation systems since they influence our thinking often subtly. For words, symbols, & metaphors I also wanted to add many important details to the search for the Meanings behind the Words.
Mind Maps are a great tool for organizing right brain designs and specifying 'What' needs to be built. KnCells add the left brain tools to specify 'How' to build those designs in the real world.

Presentation Format:
I will use my 5 N&S causes model to present what is Necessary & Sufficient to create & maintain KnCells. For details see: Causality

The Design phase:
KnCells are used to make your personal, often unconscious, meanings conscious, hence available for review, i.e. editing, debugging, testing & sharing. They also help you become more aware of others meanings & attempts to convince or deceive you. It is Meanings we wish to learn & share, yet words, symbols, numbers, diagrams, charts, etc., are the mechanisms for such learning & sharing.

The primary Contexts for using KnCells are:

The Design Specification or Model. The Implementation phase:
This turns mental ideas into experiential realities, using 3 distinct functional & measurable parts: Models, Facts, & Skills.

Models which are distinct from Facts and Skills. have 2 or more elements (Facts) connected by critical relationships. Together these elements (Facts) + critical relationships serve the Purposes for which the system was designed to work within the intended Contexts.

For KnCells, what are those 3 distinct functional & measurable parts? The Language Specific Implementation implements specific Data structures.
I will use 2 examples:
KnCell Semantic Format: (Paper & Pencil Format)
Entity:: Absolutely anything you want to explore, to learn about, understand:
    Ideas, Things, People, Events, etc.
Attributes: Internal aspects of the Entity you consider important:
     Typically distinctions that make this entity different from other similar entities,
      like Size, Color, Personality traits, beliefs, etc.
Relationships> External: How you relate this entity to other entities.
MetaKn} Your knowledge about the knowledge represented: When entered, by whom, etc.

KnCell Text Format: (Paper & Pencil Format)
Entity:: Flush against the left margin; and ending with a double colon.
    Attributes: Indented 1 level, usually a tab or 4 spaces, from their entity; and followed by a single colon. Then some space, either a tab char or 4 spaces just for easy visibility and the VALUE you've assigned. Tabs (char 9) are best where available since they allow nicely formatted columns.
    Relationships> Indented 1 level, usually a tab or 4 spaces, from their entity; and followed by a single right arrow or 'greater than' sign then some space, either a tab char or 4 spaces just for easy visibility and the VALUE (another Entity) you've assigned. Again Tabs (char 9) are best where available since they allow nicely formatted columns..
    MetaKn} Indented 1 level, usually a tab or 4 spaces, from their entity; and followed by a single open curly braces sign. Ditto for spacing and columns.

Short example:
Type{ Person}
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Green
Son of> Francis
Father of> 5 Kids (1,2,3,4,5)
Date_entered{ Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013}

Longer example:

Further related Knowledge topics see:
Knowledge Overview - an overview of my Knowledge pages
Defining Knowledge from a Learner's view - What is it??
How do we Create new Knowledge??
Knowledge Representation - How is Kn represented both in our minds and externally?, &
Knowledge Transfer - How is Kn transferred from: Individual to Individual,
     & community to community?

Last Updated: Sunday, Mar. 30, 2014 7:19 PM

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